Amendment 52

Part of Environment Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 13th September 2021.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 5:30 pm, 13th September 2021

My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Baroness; she has made a very powerful speech and covered a lot of the points that I wanted to raise. The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, also made a powerful and passionate speech. We all know that some pesticides are lethal when applied badly or in the wrong conditions. A lot of farmers do it absolutely correctly but, sadly, a minority do not necessarily adhere to the rules or the conditions. As the food section of the United Nations has reminded us, we also need to bear in mind that crop yields currently drop by 26% to 40% if one does not have the right chemicals.

The noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, was absolutely right that there are alternatives coming through in gene editing; that must be the future. It would be an ideal situation if we could get rid of most harmful pesticides through gene editing, to keep food production up. The noble Baroness also reminded us what a complete mess we have made in our farming over past years, which has affected biodiversity, the soil and nature. A serious revolution is taking place now to correct that.

I turn to Amendment 123 and support what the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, has said. Yes, there is an informal agreement to phase out lead shot within five years, but that is too long a timescale. It is perfectly possible to do it to an earlier timescale. It would be inconvenient for some industries, I agree, but my mind goes back to when I was a Minister and we started to phase out CFCs. Industries came to my door in their droves, saying, “You cannot do this”, “We will have to rejig our plant”, “We can’t possibly do it in the timescale you are proposing.” In fact, they did it in a quicker timescale than I wanted at the time. If one gives industries a set date, they can do it; they will meet it. It is a pity that most of the steel now has to come from China, but that is another story. I support the thrust of what the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, has said, and I so agree with my noble friend Lord Shrewsbury: it is for the good of shooting that this amendment is necessary.